After nearly 40 years as Clearwater’s trusted medical provider, Dr. David Papish retired at the end of 2018 and passed on the torch to GraceMed. The private, nonprofit network of clinics offers medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health services. Providing compassionate, accessible, high-quality health care is at the core of their mission as they care for more than 40,000 patients in Wichita, Topeka, McPherson, and now Clearwater.

Access to reliable, fast, and secure Internet service is vital to carrying out their important work. Their Internet connection is used to facilitate patient communication for appointments and other follow-up, access patient data and records, send prescriptions to pharmacies, communicate with staff and managers, and conduct medical research.

“All communication with our patients and retrieving their data is done using the fiber Internet connection with SKT. It is critical for the connection to be reliable on a daily basis,” GraceMed IT Director Keith Flippin said.

Discovering Powerful Rural Internet Service

With the addition of the Clearwater location, Flippin manages technology operations for 17 clinics, a call center, and an off-site facility housing servers for electronic medical records. As the first GraceMed clinic outside their Internet provider’s service area, it created a new challenge. Flippin initially checked into having their Internet provider expand to Clearwater with a fiber line, but it was cost-prohibitive. He soon discovered that the local provider, SKT, which completed a Fiber Internet installation project in the spring of 2018, could offer the speed and reliability that he expected for their clinics. GraceMed’s other locations use 50 Mbps Internet service, but Flippin compared costs and decided it was worth it to bump up to 1 Gbps.

“It’s been great so far!” Flippin said. “We have no complaints, no dragging, or slow-down – even with our phones, data, and Internet all using the same line.”

Serving Rural Kansans

Founded in 1979 as a healthcare ministry of the United Methodist Church, GraceMed has grown in an effort to ensure that access is available where it is needed most, CEO Dave Sanford said. The clinics serve all patients, regardless of insurance status or household income, with discounted services available for those who qualify.

Just as SKT is committed to providing the latest tech to rural areas where technology can be vital to connecting residents and businesses to the world, GraceMed recognizes the importance of providing its services in these underserved areas.

“Parts of rural Kansas are moving into the drastically underserved category … and the underserved are the focal point of our mission,” Sanford continued.

While a variety of services are offered at its clinics, the Clearwater practice focuses primarily on medical care. Valerie Anderson, APRN, sees patients with the help of staff, Ginger Chambray, MA; Linda Evans, MA; Jonna Murphy, PSR, MA; and Rhonda Chenoweth, PSR, MA, all of whom worked with Dr. Papish and have stayed on.

“This has been a refreshing, fun experience filled with kindness and interesting life stories … definitely busy in a good way,” Anderson said.

An alumnus of Wichita State University, Anderson has practiced in various clinical settings, including orthopedics, corrections, and family medicine. She has lived in Kansas since 1996 after serving in the United States Air Force. A widow, Valerie has four children, ages 25, 21, 10, and 8. When she’s not at work, Valerie loves to travel, watch her children’s sports, and work on her lawn.

For more information about GraceMed Clearwater Family Clinic, visit gracemed.org or call 620.584.2055.